The concept of accountability can be classified according to the type of responsibility exercised and/ or the person, group or institution the public official answers to
➤ Horizontal vs. Vertical Accountability
Horizontal accountability is the capacity of state institutions to check abuses by other public agencies and branches of government or agencies' requirement to report sideways. Alternatively, vertical accountability is the means through which citizens, mass media and civil society seek to enforce standards of good performance on officials. While parliament is typically considered a key institution in horizontal accountability constructs, it is also important in vertical accountability.
➤ Political versus Legal Accountability
Parliament and the judiciary act as horizontal constitutional checks on the power of the executive. These two institutions' role can be further delineated in that parliament holds the executive politically accountable, whilst the judiciary holds the executive legally accountable. These classifications stem from the fact that parliament is a political institution, while the judiciary can only adjudicate legal issues. However, rule of law doctrine enables the judiciary to even adjudicate on the legality of the policy issues as well as matters of its implementation and rights of citizens and states in a federal setup.
Together, they provide on-going oversight in order to keep the government accountable throughout its term in office.
➤ Social Accountability
The prevailing view of social accountability is that it is an approach towards building accountability that relies on civic engagement, namely a situation whereby ordinary citizens and/or civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in exacting accountability. Such responsibility is also referred as society driven horizontal accountability.
➤ Methods of ensuring accountability
The main methods of enforcing accountability are:
These methods ensure flexibility, initiative, efficiency, performance and adequate control and accountability over the country's governance.
Steps that should be taken to ensure accountability following ethical principles